With all the talk of which players are most important to West Virginia's success this fall, EerSports takes a look at the ten things WVU must do this fall in order to win the Big 12.
Geno Smith may need to be even better this fall for WVU to be successful.
10. The Fans Have to Bring It: Ever noticed that in big games West Virginia tends to play better? Well, with the Big 12 teams coming to Morgantown, a rowdy atmosphere will be needed to get every bit of home field advantage in a schedule loaded with home games.
9. Protect The Quarterback: Everyone knows that WVU is going to pass the ball a lot, so teams will be pinning their ears back and going after Geno Smith. That doesn't mean he can't stay off his back, though. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State allowed less than one sack per game.
8. Speaking of Geno: Geno Smith needs to be Geno Smith... and then some. There's a lot of talk about the improvement in offenses in year two under Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers will need every bit of that.
7. An Elite Third Receiver Must Emerge: What Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey did last year was simply amazing and fans can not expect them to do it all again. A third receiver (and preferably fourth, fifth and sixth) needs to step up and be a reliable option. Ivan McCartney?
6. The D-Line Needs to Occupy Blockers: The offensive linemen in the Big 12 are going to be bigger and stronger than what West Virginia is accustomed to and someone needs to force two guys to block him so that the linebackers can step up and make tackles.
5. Cornerbacks Need to Cover: Broderick Jenkins needs to keep up the improvement we saw last year, but with the added aspect of actually catching the interceptions. Pat Miller's tackling is atrocious, but will be hid if he stays to the short side of the field. He can't slack on the coverage, though, or he will get burned.
4. Special Teams Need to Be Special: Tyler Bitancurt needs to return to form of the All-Big East kicker he once was and Corey Smith needs to continue booming fifty and sixty yard bombs to turn the field around. The importance of special teams can not be stressed enough.
3. Run The Ball Efficiently: Yes, it sounds crazy, but, while Baylor and Oklahoma State were prominent passing teams, when they did run the ball, they ran it well. The Bears and Cowboys averaged 5.3 yards per carry, good for a tie for second in the conference. West Virginia averaged 3.8 last season.
2. Pass Rush!: Bruce Irvin is gone and so is Julian Miller, two names near the top of West Virginia's all-time sack list. Will Clarke is an excellent defensive end, but does he have the speed to get to the quarterback? Josh Francis garnered a lot of attention this spring for his work at the BUCK, which would be a big boost if it translated to the fall.
1. Create Turnovers: It was the key ingredient in Oklahoma State's defense. They gave up tons of yards, but they led the nation in turnovers forced with 44. In the most obvious statement ever published on EerSports, the more the offense is on the field, the better.